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Home China Travel Guide 6 Reasons to Visit China in Winter, Plus Where to Go and What to See

6 Reasons to Visit China in Winter, Plus Where to Go and What to See

Planning a vacation for the holidays? China is one of the best places to visit in winter. From winter festivals to historical treasures, you won’t run out of things to do. You’ll see the magic of the Great Wall and other landscapes overed in snow. Plus, who doesn’t want a vacation with fewer crowds and lower costs?

This article will give you 6 reasons to visit China in winter, together with a list of places to visit and things to do for your China winter tours.

1. Exciting Festival Celebrations

China has an incredibly rich culture with many traditional festivals, particularly during the winter season. Different regions celebrate their culture differently with exciting activities and events. Among the most famous winter festivals are:

Harbin International Ice & Snow Festival running from late December to early February in Harbin, showcases amazing large-scaled ice sculptures and fun activities from the region’s culture. It is one of the four major ice and snow festivals in the world. A Harbin tour with the festival will surely be a highlight of your visit to China.

Chinese New Year is the most important Chinese festival with the biggest celebrations across the whole country. It falls between late January and mid-February. It’s a time of happiness for family reunions. You’ll see lantern displays, dragon dances, and a joyful atmosphere all around.

The Lantern Festival concludes the New Year celebrations on the 15th day of the first lunar month. It’s characterized by all kinds of lanterns symbolizing hope and fun riddles. The traditional snack for the Lantern Festival is sweet rice balls.

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Harbin Ice and Snow World
Harbin Ice and Snow World

2. Fun Winter Sports

Don’t miss the lively winter sports scene when you visit China in winter. Since Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the country’s first, winter sports have become a lot more popular in China. The industry is booming with newly established infrastructure and facilities.

Skiing leads the winter sports scene in China, with top resorts like Zhangjiakou, a key location for the Beijing 2022 snow events. Other places include Yabuli Ski Resort in Heilongjiang Province and Changbaishan Ski Resort in Jilin Province with a natural hot spring.

Ice skating is popular in places like Beijing, Harbin, and Inner Mongolia, especially during the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. There are also major indoor snow parks in cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Beijing, Shenyang, so you can experience winter sports in warmer parts of the country too.

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3. Seasonal Delicacies

Food is an important part of almost everyone’s China tour. The country has an incredibly wide range of regional as well as seasonal cuisines, each unique in their own way. Try traditional Chinese cuisine like spicy hot pot, dumplings, noodles, roasted sweet potatoes, tanghulu (sugar-coated hawthorn berries), and cabbage.

The best Chinese food to ward off the cold in winter has to be the renowned Sichuan hot pot. Its broth is heavily seasoned with chili oil, peppercorns, and an assortment of meats and vegetables. If you’re going for the traditional Sichuan style, make sure you can handle the spice.

For a taste of northern China, dumplings are a classic. Fillings usually contain pork, cabbage, or chives, served alongside vinegar and soy sauce. Noodles, another local favorite, come in different forms in different regions—hand-pulled, knife-cut, or rice noodles, each with a distinct texture.

In the streets, steaming hot roasted sweet potatoes make for a popular winter snack. Add some warmth and sweetness to your trip at an affordable price. You’ll also see plenty of tanghulu stalls. In fact, they are not even stalls, sometimes just the owner carrying a pole of tanghulus on the back of their bike. It’s a traditional sweet and sour snack made of hawthorn berries coated in hard sugar. It’s a childhood favorite for many Chinese people.

Cabbage endures the cold weather in winter. In China, it is often cooked with meat, tofu, or pickled to make sauerkraut. Homemade sauerkraut is a specialty you should definitely try when you visit China in winter.

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Harbin Sugarcoated Haws
Enjoy Sugarcoated Haws in Harbin

4. Stunning Winter Landscapes

Some of the best places to visit in winter for natural landscapes include the Huangshan Mountains in Anhui Province. See the mountains covered in snow, white-capped pine trees, and breathtaking sea of clouds.

Or if you’re visiting Harbin, you should pay a visit to the Siberian Tiger Park, the largest base for keeping and breeding Siberian tigers in captivity in the world.

Winter is a great time to visit the famous Forbidden City in Beijing, one of China’s largest and best-preserved imperial palace complexes. It is much quieter compared to other seasons, so you can appreciate its solemnity better.

Etched into mountain slopes by generations of farmers, Yuanyang Rice Terraces in Yunnan Province is a field of wonderful colors. It is especially gorgeous when filled with water reflecting the clear sky.

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5. China’s Ancient Heritage

Visiting China in winter allows you to have quieter experiences learning about the countless historical and cultural marvels. See the magnificent architecture and invaluable artifacts at the Forbidden City. Visit the Great Wall covered in snow and have a personal experience with the historical wonder.

The Terracotta Army in Xi’an is a must-see when you travel to China. It’s an assembly of life-sized sculptures comprising soldiers and horses buried alongside China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. The site was unearthed in 1974, became one of the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century.

You can also learn about traditional Chinese art forms such as opera, calligraphy, painting, and tea ceremonies. There are many performances, museums, and lessons to enrich your China tour.

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Terracotta Warriors and Horses

6. Fewer Crowds & Lower Prices

Visiting China in winter, the off-season for tourism, is a great idea because popular attractions tend to be quieter and less crowded. This means shorter queues, reduced traffic, and more freedom to wander at your own pace.

With less tourists, comes lower traveling expenses. You’ll find lower-priced flights, accommodations, tours, and more. Discounts and reduced rates also become more prevalent. So plan your winter trip to China now!


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